Five Minutes with Congressman Lloyd Smucker
1) Firstly, we would like to thank you for your support of the CHOICE Act. Like community banks, you have a deep commitment to your communities and the citizens you represent. What are your priorities this session?
In community banking, relationships are everything. When I graduated from high school, I bought a small construction company from my brother that had just a few employees. When that business was ready to grow, we didn’t go to Wall Street for a loan – we went to a community bank. They knew us, and provided the capital necessary to expand and create more jobs. There are countless stories of motivated individuals that want to harness the power of free enterprise to build something. In many ways, that’s the American Dream. Unfortunately, in today’s regulatory environment, achieving this is more difficult than it should be.
Over the last 8 months, I have worked with my colleagues to provide regulatory relief to families and small businesses across Pennsylvania and the nation in order to get our economy moving again after years of stagnation. I will continue that effort so that the American Dream stays alive – and thrives – so that everyone has the opportunity to make their lives better.
2) The current political climate makes it tough to cut through all the noise. Can you tell us what the House has been able to accomplish so far this session?
Pennsylvanians may not read it in the news, learn about it on cable television, or hear it on the radio, but in the first seven months of this Congress, the House has been working to improve the lives of the people we represent. Here are just a few examples:
- The House unanimously passed legislation to strengthen career and technical education nationwide that would invest in schools that prepare students for good-paying jobs that are in demand and available now.
- The House passed sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and Russia with bipartisan support of more than 400 members. The Senate passed the sanctions a couple days later and the president signed them into law.
- The House passed multiple bipartisan bills to crack down on human trafficking – increasing protections for victims and toughening penalties for traffickers.
- The House and Senate passed, and the president signed, legislation that overhauls the Department of Veterans Affairs to deliver better care to our veterans. It received broad bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle.
3) As a member of the House Budget Committee, you have a unique perspective on the budget process. Can you give us an insider’s look at the Fiscal Year ‘18 Budget Resolution –Building a Better America –A Plan for Fiscal Responsibility?
I was sent to Congress not to prop up the failed status quo, but to help end it. The budget resolution we passed out of committee does just that, and will put us on a path towards regular order and fiscal sanity. It will grow our economy, create more opportunity for working families, and reignite the American Dream.
Our plan balanced the federal budget in 10 years, controls federal spending, strengthens and secures Medicare, and supports robust funding for our troops to keep our homeland safe. Importantly, our plan also provides intstructions for necessary fundamental tax reform that will reduce rates, simplify the code, and create jobs. It also uses a process known as “reconciliation” to address mandatory spending, which hasn’t been done in more than a decade.
4) The House Budget Committee has called for a review of the Congressional Budget Act and major budget process reforms. Can you talk about your ideas and the committee’s priorities in terms of reform?
The federal budget process is broken. Since 2010, Congress has passed 31 continuing resolutions to keep the federal government open. Only three fiscal years since 1955 have not produced a continuing resolution. We’ve been governing by crisis for too long.
Our reforms should include strengthening budget enforcement, increasing transparency for hardworking American taxpayers, establishing long-term debt limits, and reforming mandatory spending while protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for current and future beneficiaries. I sent a letter to the chair of the Budget Committee urging her to begin this discussion by holding hearings specifically for budget process reforms. I also support bills in the House that would hold Congress accountable by withholding pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown or if we don’t produce a budget resolution. The American people deserve greater accountability to help ensure responsible spending of taxpayer dollars.
5) You’ve demonstrated your support of workforce development in your work on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and your co-sponsorship of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. Can you talk the legislation and your personal investment in these programs?
I was the first in my family to attend high school, and I have my own experience with non-traditional education. I took college courses at night while operating a small construction company during the day. Countless students across Pennsylvania and the nation have similar experiences, and we should make it easier for them to compete in today’s 21st century economy. The 16th District is home to multiple career and technical education schools, and I’ve heard directly that they want to expand their programs to more students who are ready to learn and eager to work.
This legislation will help businesses and schools collaborate to ensure students gain the necessary skills to get in-demand, family-sustaining jobs. I was glad to be part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers advancing this legislation through committee, and ultimately through the full House.